WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) - More than 5 million people have signed up for health insurance through the federal and state exchanges, Department of Health and Human Services officials said Monday.
That's 1 million shy of the 6 million people the government expects to have enrolled by March 31, the deadline for open enrollment for both insurance through the exchanges and through private insurers. They have 14 days to hit that goal.
"The last several days have been the busiest since December, with the call center taking more than 198,000 calls on Thursday alone - the busiest day since December 23 - and more than 130,000 calls over the weekend," wrote Marilyn Tavenner, administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, in a blog Monday. "Last week, HealthCare.gov saw more than 4 million visits - and an additional 1 million visits this weekend."
The federal and state exchanges opened Oct. 1, but problems with the federal exchange kept it from working properly until Nov. 30. Since then, enrollment through the federal exchange has increased rapidly but not enough to keep pace with the original goals.
The government gained a big morale boost when California announced Monday it had reached the 1 million mark, with 1,018,315 people selecting plans by late Friday. California insurers have reported that 85% of enrollees have paid their premiums.
"This is a historic threshold for our exchange, for the state of California and for the nation," said Covered California executive director Peter Lee. "But we're not stopping at a million."